Friday, May 16, 2014

Film Friday: Elysium (2013)

You’ve heard the expression “a sucker punch,” right? Well, Elysium is a sucker gang rape, and it just won’t stop. This film is a nonstop blast of nasty liberalism from start to finish, and it’s very annoying. It’s also not a very good film.

Writer, director Neill Blomkamp became famous for District 9, a film that criticizes apartheid through an alien analogy. Basically, undesirable aliens land in South Africa (they are derogatorily called “prawns”), and they are put onto a reservation away from the humans, where they are kept under martial law including forced abortions and extra-judicial killings. This is a metaphor for South Africa’s homelands and shantytowns, and you are meant to leave the film feeling that the humans (read: whites) are murderous and racist.
Interestingly, like all self-righteous liberals, Blomkamp actually creates a rather racist metaphor in the process of accusing everyone else of racism. Indeed, the aliens are a metaphor for South Africa’s blacks. And how does Blomkamp present them? They are presented as murderous, violent and oversexed. They are borderline retarded, with most residing south of the border. They are lazy. They steal for a living and without compunction. They “have no concept of private property.” And most tellingly, the ultimate point to the film is that exposure to these prawns will infect the humans (read: whites) and turn them into prawns. Call me crazy, but that sounds kind of racist to me. Oh, and like all child-races, they need white liberals like him to protect them.

Well, Blomkamp has done this again in Elysium. This time, the story ostensibly involves evil rich people (read: whites) who live in a floating space station which gives them a lifestyle similar to the McMansion lifestyle so in vogue today while Hispanics fester upon the Earth in the once livable city of Los Angeles, which has now been reduced to little more than a massive shantytown. What’s more, these poor Hispanics are kept down by a robotic police force, slave labor jobs, and a total lack of healthcare. Again, you are meant to leave the film feeling that the rich (read: whites) are murderous and racists.
Once again, however, let us examine the other half of the equation. Here, Hispanics have taken over the golden city of Los Angeles and they have turned it into a shantytown. No attempt is made at running a self-sustaining economy as the only jobs anyone holds are those given to them by whites. Law and order has collapsed. No one cares for their homes or their property. Most get by engaging in criminal activity, such as stealing cars from other poor people. Essentially, they are lazy, dirty thieves who have ruined paradise. And the only person who can save them is white (Matt Damon). Call me crazy, but that sounds kind of racist to me.

Anyway, Elysium takes place in 2154 and boy is it ever full of holes. Matt Damon works in a factory and gets injured in an accident. He will die in five days from radiation exposure. Of course, he's a parolee, so he's easy to manipulate by the evil boss (a standard liberal trope) and he is forced to sign a release to get medical treatment, which release then cuts him off from medical treatment (another liberal trope). The only thing that can save him now is if he finds a way to sneak aboard the Elysium space station where every family has their own medical machine which can cure anything that is wrong with you. To do this, Damon agrees to kidnap his boss for an Hispanics gangster and retrieve information from his head. Only, it turns out that his boss is working with Elysian Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) to stage a coup so she can shoot any Hispanics who try to flee the surface to the space station – when the story begins, Elysium is run by an Indian President who is soft on killing immigrants. I’ll leave the rest for you to figure out, only I will say that the story involves a corporate hit team and shaky-cam chase scenes until you’re ready to vomit.
Everything about this film stinks.

The message of this film is idiotic and offensive. The idea here is that whites don’t want to help Hispanics. In reality, the US alone gave $56 billion in foreign aid in 2013. Even worse, the film implies that the whites are maliciously denying the Hispanics medical care. Indeed, at the end of the film, medical robots race to the planet to hand out free medical care, and they do so without costing the whites anything. Hence, the message of the film isn’t that whites are cheap, it’s that they are malicious and are withholding lifesaving care even though it would cost them nothing to provide it. In real life, the West is constantly providing medical care throughout the world, even at a cost of reducing the care available here. In the US, $80 billion in free medical care is given each year to illegal aliens. So this film is slander.
Even beyond the messages however, this is just a poorly done and idiotic film. First, the film is awash in a particularly annoying shaky cam. It is as bad as Cloverfield at times. Secondly, the film is hard to understand as the sound is poor and, even worse, the accents are hard to follow. Third, the logic of this film is a joke. Consider this:
● A human race that is capable of building Elysium is more than capable of turning the planet into a paradise, so why waste billions of trillions on building the space station when it would be cheaper to clean up the planet?

● Secondly, what’s the point in denying the surface dwellers healthcare when it wouldn’t cost the Elysium dwellers anything to send down a few robot doctors.

● Third, to stage the coup, Foster gets an arms-dealer (military industrial complex) to re-write Elysium’s code to have her recognized as President. Doesn’t anyone think the people who live there will notice that their President has been deposed?

● Fourth, why have the surface dwellers given up any attempt to improve the planet themselves or run their own affairs?
The film is also deeply manipulative, only you won’t buy into their manipulations, which makes those scenes annoying rather than emotional.
In the end, this film pounds you with liberalism at every turn, and with nonsense – each scene ends with you wondering why anyone would actually act the way the people do. It presents whites, corporations and the military in the most clichéd, liberal-fabricated-negative light possible while it washes away the responsibility of these people to care for themselves. The plot is paper thin. The acting is poor. The action is entirely predictable. The fight scenes are way too long. The cinematography and sound are horrible. And you won’t care for a second about any of the characters.

Put simply, this film sucks; it’s a hacky political hit piece. You should avoid it.

40 comments:

Kit said...

So... its a "don't see"?

AndrewPrice said...

Bingo.

Kit said...

I got that sense just from the trailer!

Also, Cloverfield, the shaky-cam didn't bother me as much as it bothered some other people. But maybe its because they had, sort of, a reason for it: it was "found footage".

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I wasn't able to watch Cloverfield. I got about 20 minutes in and found myself feeling too sick, so I just listened to it and worked on my computer.

Kit said...

Hm, I've heard other people say the same.

Interestingly, its the use of shaky-cams during non-suspense scenes, like two people chatting in an office, that gets me kind of nauseous.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm not a fan of it at all, but yeah, it's worse when they use it in non-action contexts. Here they use it all the time and violently at times.

shawn said...

I saw the film on Netflix and didn't think it was a bad as you Andrew. To me it was kinda "meh". I thought the visuals were quite beautiful and liked much of the action. Funny thing 'tho, I know that we are supposed to see "Elysium" as evil rich conservatives in space, but it starts off as rich liberals in space who didn't mind having shuttles blasted in space, it was only once they got to the station that it turned into, "They're here now, can't get our hands dirty with murder."

The movie reminded me of how during the "Rodney King" riots, police were sent to the border of Beverly Hills to keep the riff-raff out while Watts and Compton burned.

But the whole med pods thing was ludicrous. There seemed to be no down side to letting the poor have access to them. Are they super expensive? Limited resources? Worried about adding to over-population?

Mike said...

Wow, I finished watching this not a couple of hours ago. I'd had the video for quite a while but just never got around to watching it. Whatever political message they wanted to convey, the movie was a hot, steaming pile. To me, Elysium seemed to be populated with the liberal elite, but I expect my own political bias didn't allow me to see the message as intended. I enjoyed the FX, but felt Jodie Foster was wasted in the movie, they could've saved a few million (or whatever she got) by plugging in someone else. Matt Damon was...well, Damon, and I'm sure the politics of the movie convinced him to take the role, but he looked a little too chubby to be one of the hungry masses, even if he did have a job. It's been hard for me to watch him since Good Will Hunting and the interviews he gave afterwards. (another story) I gave it a "4" on IMDb, just on my threshold of watchable, only so for the visuals and action scenes.

PikeBishop said...

this movie changed my life. I fully believe in Matt Damon and the philosophy by which he lives his life. I am starting a program to gather up homeless people and give them arms and drop them off at the gates of Damon's (and Clooney and Penn.......) mansion in the Hollywood HIlls. I am sure he will have no objection to letting them in.

Kit said...

"The movie reminded me of how during the "Rodney King" riots, police were sent to the border of Beverly Hills to keep the riff-raff out while Watts and Compton burned."

A fascinating, if unintentional, comparison...

ScottDS said...

I mentioned to Andrew elsewhere that many people had a problem with this movie, not just conservatives. (Note the section on character arcs.)

A friend of mine saw it before me (and this guy loved District 9). He was disappointed... and he thought Jodie Foster was horrible. I couldn't quite tell but he thought she had been dubbed at the last minute and for a long time, whenever she speaks, the filmmakers cut to a shot that doesn't show her face. Weird...

As for me... meh. Great visuals and decent acting... but it's so ham-handed in its execution. (Though Shawn has a point.) One of my Facebook friends put it best: "So the backup defense plan for this huge space station is a weirdo with a rocket launcher who lives in a van?!"

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, It is very liberal isn't it, to want what the people of Elysium want, i.e. to keep "those people" away, but not to have the stomach to actually admit that and to instead hope that others do your dirty work.

Personally, I found the film unwatchable. Not only was the message just obnoxious, but everything about this film was stupid. In fact, I have to quote something one of ScottDS's friends said just to highlight the kinds of moments that keep happening throughout this film:

So they build this technological wonder that is Elysium and their defense system is a weirdo who lives in a van with a rocket launcher?

That about sums up the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, The effects were excellent, that's for sure. The rest stunk. Foster was wasted. She was barely in the film and when she was, she was a walking cliche. Damon is way too soft to be believable as this guy. And as another critic put it, his character makes no sense -- how can he go from a petty thief/idiot factory worker to global revolutionary with nothing to really spark that. His character feels phony.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, LOL! Fantastic! I'll chip in a few bucks to make that happen! :D

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn and Kit, Interesting. I hadn't thought about that at the time, but I definitely see that in hindsight.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I just had to quote (paraphrase) that because it really highlights the ludicrousness of the thinking that went into this, Everything in this film is like that... stop for a moment to think about it and it all falls apart.

tryanmax said...

What I want to know is, since all that hardware is drilled straight into Damon's spine, does he have to wear that same ratty t-shirt for the rest of his life?

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I think we might have to wait for the sequel to find that out. And then we'll get a prequel on the maker of the shirt which will end with Damon's character buying it.

:-D

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Yes, he does. Also, did you notice that the monitor for the equipment and the input/output stuff is all on the back of his head... where he can't see it or use it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, So the trilogy will be...

The Fellowship of Abercrombie and Fitch
Elysium
The Return of the Dumbass

KRS said...

With just a little tweaking, this film could have been a contender. Y'see all the people on the planet are actually beneficiaries of entitlement programs. They all have food credit cards, but there's nothing in the stores but saltene crackers from 1950's Civil Defense stocks. The lines for urgent care facilities are longer than those for a Bieber concert or a Disney World ride. The med robots and fix-it beds are available in the care centers but they run on the beta software that was written by the same outfits that created the Obamacare exchanges. Humans go into the urgent care, but they come out ... different. Elysium is populated by loving, caring, liberals and the only reason they are up there is because, obviously, their physical detachment provides the freedom to be objectively caring in allocating resources on planet. Plus, they get a better view of the riots.

Not only does this scenario resolve most of your complaints, Andrew, but it might make a watchable movie.

Cast Adam Sandler as the hero.

ScottDS said...

Yeah, speaking of trilogies, this photo kinda has me excited. Kinda... :-)

I'm sure we'll be talking more about it in the months to come.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, LOL! Brilliant!

//applause

ScottDS said...

Ya know, some of these comments once again prove something I said in my JFK review: the line between liberal film and conservative film can often be a thin one.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'd like to see that as a good thing, but in truth I'm expecting crap. Christopher Nolan, I'd be jumping up and down. Mr. Lensflare-Speilberg-ripperoffer... well, I'll believe it when I see it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think it's more that the line between an obnoxious left-wing ideological film and an obnoxious right-wing ideological film is a fine line.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Nolan is doing his own space adventure - the first full-length trailer is up now.

AndrewPrice said...

Huh. Well, I guess we'll see.

jimmythetulip said...

"Secondly, what’s the point in denying the surface dwellers healthcare when it wouldn’t cost the Elysium dwellers anything to send down a few robot doctors."

And more to the point, why wouldn't they sell the machines to them? I guess they're the only capitalists on the planet who don't want to make a profit. They're actually turning down money out of spite just because they're so evil they want poor brown people to die. God this movie is stupid.

AndrewPrice said...

Jimmy, Excellent point! They must be passing up an unbelievable fortune by not selling these medical droids to the people on the surface. Or just as much, wouldn't entrepreneurs take their own machines to the surface and charge the poor people to use them? You could become amazingly rich if you did that. Yet, no one thinks to do it. Why not? Oh yeah, because that would blow a hole in the entire premise of the film... which is that Hispanics are helpless without whites giving them things, but whites hate them too much to give them stuff. Nice message.

Kit said...

"Hispanics are helpless without whites giving them things, but whites hate them too much to give them stuff. Nice message."

Remember when the white liberals complained about Speedy being racist? If you think about it, Speedy didn't need to be saved by some gringo Matt Damon.

Tohokari-Steel said...

Yeah, I was for not seeing this movie for three reasons:
1. The basic plot. WAY too left-wing for me.
2. The director of District 9. I hated that movie (though the alien single father was a cute concept).
3. Matt Damon, a.k.a. a millionaire. That's like him making a film that condemns fracking, even though it's funded by oil from the UAE...oh wait, HE DID.

Jason said...

From what I remember of this movie, L.A. was filled to the brim with people (liberals love the overpopulation theme, too). So nobody could move to say, the suburbs? Or if they were destroyed, how about building new ones? How about going to another state? The whole crowded city theme never makes sense unless the people are penned in against their will or 90% of the world’s landmass is uninhabitable. The funny thing about humans is that sooner or later…we start *moving*.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, But Speedy is also lazy and that is bad, to suggest that Mexicans enjoy a siesta.

AndrewPrice said...

Tohokari, Your instincts are 100% correct. The plot is too far left, this film suffers from the same problems District 9 suffered from, and Matt Damon lost me long ago as someone I can like on screen.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, They kind of present it as if the entire earth is either like LA or uninhabitable for some reason or another. But anyone who's actually traveled knows how much BS that is. Plus, overpopulation is only a problem when combined with liberalism. Look at Hong Kong to see what happens when it's done right.

Tohokari-Steel said...

Yeah, last movie I enjoyed him in was Bourne Identity. After that, the only thing that comes to mind is that Matt Damon spoof used in "Team America: World Police".
Maaaaatt Daaaaamoooon...

Koshcat said...

Two disclosures: I liked District 9 and I haven't seen Elysium.

I have read at least two reviews that Elysium is subversively conservative. The people who live in Elysium are not evil Capitalists; they are liberal cronyist. From their high, white-tower perch they decide who gets medical treatment and who does not. Their policies continue to suppress the huddled masses until they revolt.

Liberals are neither liberal or progressive; they are monarchists and elitists. Our republican overlords are just too stupid or weak (or bought out) to say it.

AndrewPrice said...

Tohokari, I think the last time I liked Damon was in Ocean's 13.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, In all honesty, I think that seeing this film as conservative is wishful thinking. It requires defining the group meant to be seen as "rich white capitalists" as Democrats, when that clearly is not the intent of the director and not the way the vast majority of the public will see them.

The biggest clue to this is all the liberal tropes throughout. This thing hits them all, from soldiers being bloodthirsty to bosses exploiting parolees to whites being instinctively racist to capitalism being about oppression rather than wealth generation.

Post a Comment